Thursday, February 28, 2013

This is the day when we were thinking of going to Strathardle to examine Helen’s potential house, but we’re not going. I was anxious about the weather – it has reverted to winter, albeit bright and cheerful winter. And about my husband’s frailty, as always, and indeed about my own. We were both exhausted yesterday, presumably from the nervous anticipation of the editor’s visit rather than the actual event which was easy and pleasant.

And next week promises to be, by our elderly standards, another tiring one. And we could only have stayed two nights. Whereas week-after-next is clear and we can stay longer, and the weather should have advanced a bit. So that is now the plan.

Just as well, perhaps, as a local auction house is going to bring round a picture by my husband’s artist for him to look at today – an oil sketch for a known picture. If we’d gone away, that would have had to be postponed.

Life's on-going problems

I’ve got the new BT router. If you never hear from me again, that means I tried to install it and failed. I spent half-an-hour on the telephone to them on Monday. I have been assured that I’ve still got call diversion, and the router cost only half of what it was advertised for on the website. All very mysterious.

I have yet to address the Dropbox problem. The editor had the neatest little tablet you ever saw, with a detachable keyboard. I have forgotten its name. I think our solution, however, is going to be to move to the Microsoft cloud. If the files can be sorted by date, I will be able to keep an eye on things and move anything recently altered to Dropbox by hand.


Zite found this from Woolly Wormhead. I’m not the only knitter fueled by Weston’s Vintage Cider! Having got that far, I wandered around her blog for a while. She lives in a double decker bus in northern Italy with husband (or partner) and small son? I long to know more. Facebook?

I could of course re-create that Purl Bee seed stitch stole from stash. But the point, as far as I was concerned, was the succession of unknown luxurious yarns. The price is simply absurd. And they’ve sold out!

The Relax continues well. Only 6.5 cm to go before the underarm increases for the dolman shaping. At that point, mindless knitting will have to be supplemented with thought. There are another 8 cm between that point and the actual underarm, but since the designer is using a heavier yarn, her row gauge will be different. I mention this in the hopes that I will remember and be careful. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The visit from the editor was a great success. He was well briefed, thanks to Dropbox, and ready with a plan of action. It’s a pity he didn’t turn up ten years ago, when my husband would have had a better chance of seeing it to fruition. Publication is planned for 2015. It's a big project.


I am sorry to keep yammering on about this. It is much on my mind.

We learned yesterday that the Cardinal himself doesn’t know who is accusing him, nor what “inappropriate acts” he is accused of. His accusers are priests of this diocese so, as their bishop, he must know them – must know them now, not just from 30 years ago. Bizarre.

Anonymity.  The sequence of events was this: The four priests lodged their complaint with the Papal Nuncio about a month ago. In the normal course of events, it would have been investigated quietly and thoroughly and we would have known nothing until/unless the Cardinal was sacked.

Then the Pope resigned, and the eyes of the world were on the Conclave. The four priests decided that this was a good moment to talk to a Sunday newspaper. In exchange for 30 pieces of silver? So it is they who have stripped the Cardinal of anonymity, along with much else. And it is the newspaper which is protecting their identities.

A small linguistic point: on Sunday and Monday the BBC kept speaking of “inappropriate acts with priests dating back to…” which might imply that hanky panky had been going on ever since. The phrase in the Observer is “…stretching back to…” But in fact the four are complaining about one unspecified inappropriate act per priest, which all are said to have happened in the 1980’s. Yesterday the BBC switched to that usage, “in the 1980’s”.

My comfort is that this is a big story. Serious, skilled investigative reporters are probably looking for those four priests even as we speak. The BBC, the Telegraph, the Sunday Times, all might be interested. Maybe the Cardinal will yet be vindicated, and the parish priest’s job in Dunbar could still be his.


I’m knitting peacefully on. The news this morning is that the designer of the Relax has found a mistake in the pattern. Mercifully, she includes the correction in Japanese in her message to purchasers, and it is labelled in English (back neck shaping, rows 17 &19) so I don’t have to print the whole thing again.

Thanks, as always, for comments. I hadn’t pursued the seed stitch wrap at Purl Bee through to its price. Wow! And I’d have to pay customs on top of that. I had been toying with the idea of knitting a section every month or so and having it ready for next Christmas, but I think not. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Not about Knitting

I don’t think a public event has left me as sad as Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation since the day they shot Kennedy.

I feel that the four priests who have destroyed him should now come forward and tell us their names and give us some hint as to what the “inappropriate behaviour” consisted of. It could be anything from an unwanted hug to buggery. When the Jimmy Saville story began to break, we very soon had real women with real names telling us what Saville had done to them. And it was not at all nice. Cardinal O’Brien deserves no less.

There is no hint as to their identities that Google can find for me. I don’t Tweet – there may be clues there.

We bought the Observer on Sunday. The original story is not very long and not very specific. All the rest, around the world, derives from that article. There is no other information, unless you happen to be the Papal Nuncio. But even from that little it can be deduced that the four complainers were grown men when the “inappropriate behaviour” may have happened. There is no question of child abuse. No crime was committed, unless they’re saying O’Brien actually raped them.

Sarah JS provided the link to the Washington Post article in yesterday’s final comment – it’s so long that I’m not going to risk copying and pasting. Have a look, please. The story is the Observer rehashed. Read some of the comments. There are hundreds.

I was absolutely horrified. Writer after writer assumes that Keith O’Brien is a paedophile, a rapist, an active homosexual who has been “caught with his pants down”. (What hope for the jury system if even people who read the Washington Post can’t think?) And he will have to spend the rest of his life meeting people every day who believe such things of him.

Only last week, he gave a television interview in which he was happily looking forward to ending his days as the parish priest in Dunbar. (He turns 75 next month, and had already tendered his resignation from the archbishopric of Edinburgh to the Pope.) My husband thinks even that may be impossible now.

One thing is for sure – those four priests hate Cardinal O’Brien. They have hated him for a long time. They’ve got their revenge, all right. Much may it profit them.

New topic

My husband’s editor is coming to see us today – I think is making the journey from London specifically for that purpose. He’s new to the job. We haven’t met him. We have invited him to join us on the cloud in Dropbox; he took up the invitation with commendable alacrity.

So I must go flutter about and think about lunch.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Scotland won

I'll say it again: Scotland won. The young men jumped into each other's arms for joy like football players, at the end.

It was most unexpected. Ireland played more stylish rugby throughout. Most of the action, all afternoon, was in Scotland’s half of the field (where Ireland needed to be, to score). The last few minutes, heart-stoppingly, were played out within inches of the Scottish line. Ireland were ahead 8-0 at one point, but subsequently Scotland were awarded four penalties and Greg Laidlaw kicked them all. 12-8, final score.

We seem to go in for world-class kickers (Gavin Hastings, Chris Paterson), whatever chaos reigns in the rest of the team. If Ireland had kicked as well, they would have won – their boy missed five kickable points.


The cathedral is our parish church. We don’t see the Cardinal there very often – but he always turns up for Christmas and for the Easter weekend; once recently, touchingly, he stood in when the cathedral clergy couldn’t take the Sunday morning Masses. And there are special occasions.

We have started going to Our Lady Star of the Sea in Leith a couple of miles away. My husband can’t walk as far as the cathedral any more. Our Lady S of the S is a pretty church, very friendly, with plenty of parking. Yesterday the priest there read out a sermon by the Cardinal about the Pope and the Conclave – he told us that the Cardinal was preaching that very sermon at that very moment in the cathedral at the other end of Leith Walk.

But he wasn’t. He didn’t turn up. Was that a mistake? But the cathedral must have been full to the rafters with cameras and newsmen. It could have been awkward. He has no one to protect him or keep order except a couple of clergymen.

The Today program seems to be steering clear of the story this morning. They have a stout, possibly errant Liberal Democrat peer to talk about instead. But it (the story) is not going to go away for a while.


Another row of eyelets. I did iron the bottom edge and I think it will stay flat (although you can see it trying to flip, there on the right). I am grateful for yesterday’s suggestions, and you can be sure I will employ one of them if there’s trouble. It’s got to be flat. I continue to love the feel and the drape, and to be pleased with the look of it, size-wise. The designer would have had it more abundant, for one of my bulk. Notice the new ball of yarn.

If my guesses about percentage are right (see sidebar), it’s still got a slight lead on Lent. I reckon that the latter is about 29% over, not counting today. Lent should soon catch up and overtake.

The Purl Bee is offering a wonderful seed stitch wrap – not just 11 different colours, but 11 different yarns. One can so easily imagine snuggling down in it in weather like this. But could one endure working that much seed stitch? 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cardinal Keith O'Brien

There’s a headline for you. Some priests have accused him of “inappropriate behaviour” towards them in the ‘80’s. They have written to the Papal Nuncio to complain, and also, presumably, had a chat with a Sunday newspaper. The Cardinal has consulted his lawyers. Why didn’t they come out with this during the considerable period of time when we all knew that either he or Archbishop Conti of Glasgow would be Scotland’s next Cardinal? Failing that, when he was setting off to Rome for the last Conclave?

I’m on the Cardinal’s side, so far.

England won yesterday, as expected. It was a good match, pretty close until the last quarter when England took over. We learned to sing the Marseillaise at Hampton Elementary School in Detroit, as a gesture of support during the war. (But we never sang God Save the King.) I can still do it, although I tend to stumble over Entendez-vous dans les campagnes. I enjoyed singing along with the French team at the beginning, since no one else was in the room. I’ll do it again, when they play us.

Scotland v. Ireland, today. One of us, Euan Murray, a tighthead prop whatever that may be, won’t be playing because it’s Sunday and it’s against his religion. He must be awfully good or the selectors wouldn’t put up with his scruples. God and his mother must be proud.

Thomas the Elder is coming to Edinburgh for the next home match, Scotland-Wales sometime in March. He’ll have supper with us the night before, and stay the night. The Loch Fyne Mileses will also be over; they’ll drop in to see us and Thomas before the game. It will be good to have people here with whom I can discuss computer problems, although I doubt if there is any help they can supply which you haven’t already given me.

I am very grateful for all your technical help. A new difficulty (how all occasions do inform against me) – the Microsoft UK Store strongly suggests, by not mentioning it, that the Surface Pro isn’t available here yet. I’ll try to phone them tomorrow. And also BT, about the router. It’s time to get back to work.

I didn’t mean to be universally rude about subcontinental call centres. I was in contact with one when I bought my present desktop computer from Dell, and they were very good. I was thinking more of the last time I tried to phone my bank – I had had an odd phone call, about how some missing interest was about to be paid into our account. The man seemed to be asking rather searching questions about our security. (“What is your husband’s date of birth?”) I hung up on him, and tried to phone the bank. I couldn’t get through to a human being at all.

I’ll let you know how I fare with BT and Microsoft. I expect better of  the latter.


I’ve put in the 6th row of eyelets on the Relax. Each adds about an inch and 3/8’s. The bottom edge is not just flipping up now, but actually curling – flipping a second time. Maybe today I’ll steam-iron the whole bottom edge. I also got the next skein wound – I’ll need it today or tomorrow. 100 grams of sock yarn takes a bit of winding. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Struggles with my Surface

We'll get on to that in a moment. One of my spam comments yesterday suggested I would have more readers if I put titles on my posts.

I did the supermarket run yesterday. The place was full of Mother’s Day stuff, and I spotted my first Hot Cross Bun. “Mother’s Day”, over here, is Laetare Sunday a fortnight hence – the word means, Rejoice! It’s the day in mid-Lent when we lay down the load of self-denial, drink cider, visit From there it’s only three weeks to Easter… So, five weeks more. That doesn’t really suggest that Lent will ever end.

I knit happily on, and now have five rows of eyelets. It’s time to start winding another skein. I’m approaching half-way from cast-on to armpits. There’s an awful lot of knitting in this baby, but I’m making progress. Rugby-watching without cider (see below) should advance things today.


My husband wrote an email on it last night. A titanic struggle, lasting a hour and resulting in a short paragraph. But he got it done. The cursor kept vanishing. The text was too small – there must be a way to enlarge it (easy in Word). I’ll work on that. The signal was fine in the sitting room.

I am enormously grateful for all your help. An iPad won’t answer, and anyway we’ve got one. Years ago, before James gave me mine and when my husband was much more mobile, I thought maybe that would be the answer – something he could carry to libraries and make notes on. But – to the iPad’s credit – a little investigation showed that getting his work into it and out again would be too difficult.

Then the Surface came along! With a USB port!

I think Southern Gal’s suggestion is probably the best – upgrade to a Surface Pro. I bought this one directly from Microsoft – I’ll email them today. In for a penny, in for a pound.

My husband set me a Google quest, just as we were going to bed. Now, that’s a job he could learn to do, even before we solve the Dropbox problem. The heirs of Baron Herzog are suing the Hungarian government to recover pictures which they say were snatched by the Nazis. Herzog was Jewish; he used to own a major work by my husband’s artist. I have established that it’s not in the National Museum or the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. I have also discovered that “Herzog” is a famous photographer and “Baron Herzog” a distinguished wine label. It would do my husband good to find out first-hand what life is like in Google-land.

Rugby resumes today. Scotland will play Ireland tomorrow here in Edinburgh – Brian O’Driscoll is walking these very streets at this very moment! Today I will watch England and France. We cheer for France, for the sake of the Auld Alliance, except when they’re actually playing us. They’ll lose, today. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Steam ironing seems to have subdued the bottom edge of the Relax all right. A great relief.  The fabric is lovely and drape-y, the yarn is beautiful. This is going to be a good one, if I can get the fit of the shoulders right.

My favourite madelinetosh’s are the nearly-solid ones. The range includes hand-painted yarns with more distinct colours, and others that are solid or effectively so. There was some variation in the electric red sweaters I knit for the  Big and Little Thomases but it sort of gets swallowed up in redness.

Christmas '11:

Lately, I have knit a sleeveless vest for my husband which he wears nearly every day – it’s time I got it off him for washing; and Ed’s Gardening Sweater; and now this. And they’re all wonderful.

I reached the fourth row of eyelets last night.

I paid a rare visit to Facebook yesterday. I had a friend-request from a real friend. It was fun scrolling through those lists of people who are friends of my friends. Talk about Six Degrees of Separation – the whole world was there. (And this morning I learn that Facebook has reduced the degrees of separation to four.) I signed up to be friends with Lucy Neatby and Brandon Mably and Lorna’s Laces and Annie Modesitt and some others – the Facebook pages in the Flipboard app on my iPad this morning are greatly enhanced.

If you have an iPad, get Flipboard. James told me about it. It’s great fun (and free).

(Some of) Life’s Other Problems

Cat, alas, it is true that the Surface won’t run Dropbox. Here’s a link to the Dropbox blog page. It’s full of the outraged howls of those disappointed by the App. Dropbox does, I gather, run perfectly well on a proper Windows 8 computer; just get the program, don’t bother with the useless App. Some of the howls are misplaced, for that reason.

But the Surface is advertised as a PC, or at any rate, an acceptable PC substitute. I don’t think I would have bought it if I had known about this difficulty. And I feel pretty sure that eventually it will be resolved – but eventually isn’t good enough. At some point I will write rather stiffly to Microsoft.

Presumably they see Skydrive as a useful money-spinner. You have to pay when you get past a certain storage limit, as indeed you do with Dropbox and LibraryThing.

Theresa, you won’t be surprised by now to learn that I couldn’t find RainbowDrive on the Surface. (That's a program which will synchronise Skydrive and Dropbox.) I wandered through the Store, which doesn’t seem to offer a search facility; and I searched “Apps” from that bar that scrolls in from the right – presumably that means that it searches the App Store. No luck. One of my Dummies books says that the Store shows only Apps which will actually run on the Surface…

I went to the BT website and tried their on-line chat facility for my router/call diversion problem. (See yesterday) I got only the suggestion that I ring Customer Service, with a phone number. It’s worth trying; I’ll probably do it. But I have a gloomy conviction that it’s no use ringing anyone big about anything these days – you’ll just wait half an hour to talk to someone in Mumbai who doesn’t understand the problem. Try phoning a bank!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yesterday’s score: Forces of Darkness 2, Jean 1.

No problem with the knitting, at least. The third eyelet is installed. I might even reach the fourth tonight. They certainly do help, as milestones. At some point today I’ll get the ironing out, and see what effect a bit of steam has on that bottom edge.

No, yesterday’s problems concern the outer world. My single success was making an appointment to see our GP about the disabled parking badge, and finding last year’s letter of rejection from the City of Edinburgh. It sounds as if we can just send the letter back, with a note from the dr, rather than toiling through the whole application form again. The dr has been on holiday. We can’t see him until sometime next month, but at least the appointment has been made.

But the Forces of Darkness did better than that.

I sat down to order the new router from BT, and got quite a way through the procedure, before I got to a screen that said that, if I proceeded, I would lose three features which our current telephone subscription offers. Two of them I had never heard of, let alone used, but the third was Call Diversion. We use that regularly – whenever we go to Strathardle (or, in the old days, London) we set the telephone here to deliver all incoming calls to the distant telephone.

Not that we get many phone calls. But I was reluctant to toss away the possibility, so I didn’t order the router.

Later on, my husband started pressing again to be allowed to use his Surface. He wants to be in direct contact with the Cloud so that he can tweak a spelling here, a comma there, and know that it is secure. I showed him Dropbox on the Surface, how easy to find and access all his work.

Then I tried a token Edit, and Save.

Guess what?

It won’t save. All saving is done to the Microsoft Cloud, called Skydrive or something like that. Windows 8 is irritating, but I am sure by now that my quarrel is with Windows 8 RT for the Surface. I tried downloading the real Dropbox – not the App – onto the desktop. No problem – except when I try to run it. That produces a message saying that it won’t run, go get the App.

There are workarounds. I could install Skydrive on my creaking desktop computer, and we could transfer the whole operation. I’ve just done some googling and discovered something called CloudHQ which claims it will synchronise Skydrive with Dropbox for $5 a month. That’s another possibility, but I’m not happy.

At the moment, my husband does his tweaking on his very ancient desktop computer, saves and backs up, and then saves again to one of those little square disks. I carry it from one end of the flat to the other. My desktop computer knows how to translate his very ancient Word Perfect files into modern Word Perfect, thence into Microsoft Word which I then copy into Dropbox. A bit clumsy, but it works, and we know that there is one definitive version, resident both on his computer and in modern form in the sky. The more places files get stored, the more danger of confusion. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

That’s a week of Lent done – only five and a half to go. Apart from the glow of virtue and the jewel added to my heavenly crown, the plus for me is the fact that I am guaranteed to lose a bit of weight if I can refrain from substituting chocolate for the missing calories in Weston’s Vintage Cider.

Here are the first pics of the Relax in its current form. I pinned it out over a white towel so that you could see the eyelets – they have turned out far more conspicuous to the camera than they are to the naked eye. You get the idea, anyway. This first picture shows the edging firmly pinned. The gap is where the round is joined -- that's all right: 

And in this one, the edging has been allowed to flip the way it wants to do:

I measured it while it was in this convenient state, and was pleased to find that (if arithmetic serves) I have progressed a whole 20% of the distance to the underarm. That’s better than I'm doing with Lent.

I will have to have a go at that edging with a steam iron. If it resolutely refuses to lie flat, I’ll have to do another inch before the underarm.

Not much else. What about Brandon Mably’s new “Scottish Knits” from Interweave? It looks very jolly, but I think I don’t need it.


I am very grateful indeed for the technical help. I wish I had a son here, or an elder grandson, to talk it over with. I think I have decided to upgrade the modem to the new BT version, and to keep your note about the devolo, Provisionalkitchener, in Evernote in case that isn’t enough. James bought a booster of some sort once and spent long hours struggling to configure the computer to support it, without success.

That was probably before I switched to BT.

I’ve just been reading the customer reviews for the devolo on Amazon. (What a useful feature that is!) It certainly sounds good, and it certainly sounds easy. So that can be Step 2 if the new router isn’t enough. And my sister pointed out yesterday that wi-fi in the bedroom can be useful as one succumbs to the infirmities of old age. Cheerful thought. One could simply plug the larger devolo in there.

That leaves Windows 8 towards which I am, so far, thoroughly hostile. I haven’t decided yet whether the version on the Surface is the real thing, or somewhat truncated. I’ve got “Windows 8 for Dummies” and am making some progress, but not enough. Googling reveals that uploading files to the Dropbox app (as opposed to the plain-vanilla Dropbox) is impossible for everybody. That’s some comfort.

This is the house we are going to look at next week on Helen’s behalf, in a drawing made by a friend which we have transformed into a place mat. It's called Strathview, and the view must indeed be wonderful. The house will be too small as it stands. Part of our brief is to assess its capacity for being extended. She insists, among other things, on a kitchen where people can congregate. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Early hair appt today...

"Relax" progresses. The first eyelets have been inserted. There are four columns of them, about three inches on each side of the side seams, 12 rounds apart. Very understated, very Japanese. The first ones show up better than I expected. Looking forward to the insertion of the next eyelets helps one through the ocean of plain knitting.

The bottom edge doesn't flair -- it flips up, very neatly. A purl round might have prevented that, if I had thought of it. If blocking doesn't cure the problem, it'll just have to be a feature. I could even hem it in place. The designer says to begin with a k1,p1 row, after the long-tail cast-on, and to count that row as wrong-side. The alternate rows are knit. There are four k1, p1 rows in all.

I didn't pay any attention, because every row for me was a right side. But now I pause to reflect, too late as always. I knit two or three rows back and forth, as I always do in that situation, to minimise the danger of a moebius twist. If I had taken care that the first circular round was a knit round, I would have achieved what the designer is asking for. Did I? Who knows. And would it have made any difference? Maybe.


We're planning a quickie in Strathardle next week, if no more snow falls. Helen and her family in Athens want a house there, for the rapidly-approaching time when all three of their boys are at school in Edinburgh; and also for the parents' old age. There aren't many houses about. A possible has turned up and my husband and I hope to make a preliminary inspection of it.

Even a quick visit would let me pop the forcing pot over some rhubarb and cut down the summer-fruiting raspberries and look around to see what's happening. Any wild garlic yet? Any tame garlic, come to that? Did the bunching onions recover from being eaten by deer? I need to start thinking garden.

I didn't do anything about wi-fi yesterday -- it was one of those mornings where things kept happening and I found myself washing up the breakfast dishes at lunch-time. My inclination at the moment is to upgrade to the new, superior BT hub. Lynne, that is a very interesting idea about an Ethernet Over Powerline -- a new one to me. But it sounds as if it has to be physically plugged in at both ends. Is that right? That would sort of defeat the purpose of letting my husband sit quietly in his armchair with his tablet.

Now I'd better go off and allow myself to be beautified.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A bad night for spam – but this time Blogger caught ‘em.

Yesterday was another one of slight advance, and this morning I have begun by downloading and beginning to print the application for a Disabled Parking Badge. We applied and were refused last year. It would make life easier in a considerable number of respects and I feel sure my husband qualifies if we can make the case properly.

We enjoyed the first half of a thriller called “Complicit” last night. Don’t tell me what happens – we’ll watch the rest this evening. So often these days we can’t hack it with modern thrillers – people rush about in the dark mumbling their lines. This one is clear, splendidly acted. It moves fast, providing enough information but not too much, trusting the audience to understand what isn’t being said. A difficult feat for writers and directors. Usually we can’t do much better than managing to grasp the drift of “Midsummer Murders”.

Thank you for the help with routers. I have established that BT now offers a superior one, all mine for £50. Seems a lot. Yesterday I tried sitting in my husband’s armchair and firing up the Surface. It worked fine. I’ll try that again this morning. Maybe I don’t need to do anything. It is interesting to learn how many people share this problem. In Alexander’s house on Loch Fyne, wi-fi seems to permeate throughout.

I have begun to wonder how I would proceed if I wanted to create a new document on the Surface, and drop it into Dropbox. I tried and failed, while sitting in the armchair. That isn’t our problem – my husband will be perfectly happy working on documents previously created. But there must be a way to do it, and I won’t feel I have mastered the Surface until I figure it out.

The weather has turned to glorious spring. I wish we could attempt Strathardle, but my husband’s new editor is coming all the way from London to see him next Tuesday. We had better stay here dusting (the Polish cleaning woman has gone home to Poland on holiday) and conserving our dwindling strength.


I have gone ahead with the plan mentioned yesterday of knitting the Relax in one colour only. That dark madelinetosh, called “Cosmos”, is so beautiful that it seems a pity to dilute it.

I’m getting on nicely. The designer says to put in eyelets every 10 rows – but she is using a heavier yarn. I compared gauges and decided that every 12 rows would be about right for me. The first eyelets should be inserted this evening.

The edge is now showing a slight tendency to flare – if it’s not one thing it’s another. But the needle, although long, is a good deal shorter than the 44” circumference I am aiming at, so the knitting has got to flare somewhat at the beginning. And blocking will help. And it will be a good deal easier to see what’s going on when I’ve done six inches or so.

Don’t miss meezermeowmy’s comment yesterday – what a lovely story! Meezermeowmy, please let us know what you decide to do with the qiviut. I knit a scarf for my mother with it once – it’s a heavenly experience. Don't worry about Lent!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Yesterday was another day more plus than minus, by a narrow margin.

Your kind and enormously helpful message came too late, Sarah. I’ve ripped the Relax and started it again. In the cold light of yesterday morning, the main problem was not the st st curl at the bottom, but the eight rows of reverse st st I had put in the day before, which were pulling the whole thing up (of course) hideously. I'll file your suggestions where I can find them for future use.

So this time I am doing it the designer’s way, starting with seven rows of broken rib. Seven rounds, actually, because I have started again in the round. At least I had the wit to keep hold of the starting point of the original cast-on and double the length of the long-tail for the second attempt.

I’ve started out in the dark shade only, as before, and this morning I am rather taken with the idea of not putting stripes in at all but going with the designer all the way, including those elegant little eyelets up the sides. That’ll be something to think about during Mass.

I’ll do those afterthought crocheted seams I did for Ed’s Gardening Sweater.

For the agile of mind: Zite found me this interesting article in American Scientist, Adventures in Mathematical Knitting. You can enjoy it without understanding entirely what a Klein bottle or a manifold is. At least I did.


The next problem is going to be establishing a decent wi-fi signal in the sitting room. Our flat is long, like a railway carriage. The BT hub which connects us to the world is at one end, attached to my desktop computer by cable and radiating wi-fi for everyone else. The signal isn’t very reliable by the time it gets to the sitting room, where my husband will want to sit with the Surface on his lap.

I’ll go up to Lewis’s tomorrow – the computer department should be quiet on Monday – and try to talk to a Young Man about routers. I’d appreciate any advice.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I got up a bit late and spent what time I had drifting around the knitting blogs – I’ll have to be brisk.


I didn’t get much done yesterday, but something. At least we moved in the right direction. I had a big breakthrough with my husband’s Surface. I have been entirely neglecting that machine lately, having begun to despair. But yesterday I fired it up and lo! I have installed Dropbox. That’s the program up in the Cloud where all my husband’s work now resides. His new editor is coming to see us soon – he has been able to have a serious advance look by being invited to join us on the Cloud.

My sister told me about Dropbox. It’s terrific for long-distance cooperation, and for back-ups. But the Surface refused to install it last month.

It’s not that I got cleverer. I did the same thing yesterday as I had previously attempted – go to the store, find Dropbox, click “install”. Last month, I got a silly error message. Yesterday, it installed.

I think the answer is that we have a very early British Surface. It’s still inventing itself. “Surface for Dummies” arrived yesterday. It has instructions for updating the “preview” edition of Microsoft Office, supplied with the machine, to the real thing. I tried this morning, and couldn’t. But then I clicked on something and got through to Microsoft who explained that it isn’t ready yet, the 2013 edition, and when it is, I’ll get it automatically.

I then had a Windows-Eight struggle in which I loaded Word (in the wretched preview edition) and tried to find Dropbox to edit one of the files. It doesn’t work that way these days. You load Dropbox and click on the file you want to edit. And it’s easy – I think my husband can actually do it.

Knitting my tee-shirt

Barbara, that is a simply brilliant idea of Meg’s, about putting in a purl row as a “speed bump” when you’re using a st st curl as an edge, as I am, and want to put an end to the curl. I had already gone beyond the point where such a device would be really appropriate. I didn’t want to rip. But I had also thought, the evening before, that the purl side looked rather nice and wondered if I should put in some stripes of it.

So last night I did a whole eight rows in reverse st st. Maybe I’ll do it again higher up, or maybe that would be too Michelin-man.

SarahSeattle has formally studied Japanese knitting with Jean Wong. She took considerable time and trouble to write to me about how to adjust the size of the sleeves, since I am knitting the smallest size for the body to avoid having too much fabric. She is designing a drapy overshirt herself – we are promised pictures soon. Maybe I’ll be tempted to start again. [My tee-shirt is called “Relax” and is a Japanese pattern.]

Meezermeowmy, that’s a lovely story about the wedding and the shawl. The church – not to mention the bride and groom – were lucky to have you. I had a look at the shawl, and agree in liking it. Wear it in health!

Now I'll have to start running fast to catch Saturday.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Very little to report. Spam continues, a distinct nuisance but not quite an overwhelming one. I think I had to delete four from yesterday’s comments, and Blogger caught some others. They all arrive with my email, along with genuine comments. There is no hint as to whether Blogger has blocked the rogues or not, so I have to go through as much clicking and scrolling for one that turns out not to be there, as for the ones that need to be deleted. But I haven't turned moderation on yet.

The new IK turned up yesterday. Nothing for me, I’m afraid, nor does it generate the frisson of excitement I feel looking through VK even knowing I’ll never knit any of it.

I started the tee-shirt off with some solid dark yarn, for the st st roll. Now I have embarked on the one-row stripes which seem to be going pretty well except that, so far, the whole thing is determined to go on rolling.

I remembered after I stopped work yesterday that there are supposed to be discreet columns of YO holes every ten rows up the sides. It’s not too late to start putting them in, but I am inclined to think the holes would disappear into the stripes anyway so I think I will omit that feature.

The darker yarn continues to look beautiful when striped – you can almost discern it, even in my inadequate photograph. But the lighter one, “Calligraphy”, so far seems rather wasted. My job today is to order something from Loop for the occasional bright stripe. I still haven’t done that.

That’s about it, for today. I have given up as well as cider for Lent, leaving more time for getting things done which in turn simply leaves me feeling overwhelmed with the realisation of how much remains undone. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blogger’s automatic spam detection seems to have collapsed again. Can’t they just put in a line of code to the effect that any message which ends with the words “My website”, followed by a link, is to be suspected? You all seemed to have enjoyed the spam so much that I felt a bit mean, deleting it. Apologies in advance for switching moderation on again, if I have to – I’ll leave it for a few more hours.

Shandy, I’m sure you’re right that the messages have been filtered through translation machines. It hadn’t occurred to me. I thought it was just bad English, but the prose does have a special quality…

I read Cathy’s short story “Takeaway” in a single gulp yesterday. (Link to the Kindle edition on, but it’s also available on, as Kristie points out.) It’s very short, very clever. It’s also an excellent taster-introduction to her Chinese detective, Song Ren, who appears in her full-length thrillers set in Beijing, “Pool of Unease” and “The Slaughter Pavillion”.

She’s got a new novel, called “Carnaby”, coming out in July, under a new name, “Cate Sampson”. It is classified as “young adult” and is set in England this time.


I’ve started the tee-shirt.

My mind felt totally gummed up yesterday morning, as evidenced by that egregious mistake spotted by Beverly, when I said that I got 25 stitches to the inch on my swatch. (No wonder I found purling uncomfortable!) I should have written, 25 stitches to four inches, of course.

I measured a favourite rugby shirt. I wear it a lot, with a polo shirt underneath and, this time of year, a heavy sleeveless pullover underneath as well. That seemed about right, for size. It measures 22 inches across. I did the sums, worrying the while not about the arithmetic but about whether I had framed the questions rightly: is it legitimate to divide inches by stitches?

The answer seemed to be that I would hit my target if I cast on the number of stitches the designer gives for her smallest size, intended for a 32 ½” chest. How could that be? And she was using sport-weight yarn which would make her cast-on even bigger than mine? I wondered about this for a while, and re-did the sums both for my gauge and for hers. I finally decided (tentatively) that I was calculating correctly.

When the designer says, positive ease, she means business – that 32.5” chest gets a 48” tee-shirt. (Her gauge is 23 stitches to FOUR inches, and the smallest size starts with 140 stitches. Try it, and let me know if I’ve done the maths wrong.)

I don’t think I want that much material flapping about. I went ahead and cast on 140 stitches for myself, which, with my gauge, should produce a 44-inch-circumference tee-shirt. I think. I’ve knit a few rows, and it looks perfectly plausible.

I should just be able to follow instructions for the smallest size for the body (adjusting length, of course). The sleeves may be a bit trickier.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

So, here we are. Lent. The weather has turned ugly, and worse is forecast for later today. Our walk in the spring sunshine on Monday seems little short of miraculous.

I had an email from Cathy just now (James’ wife, in Beijing) shamelessly promoting her short story “Takeaway” which has just been published as an eBook. It costs £0.77. I’ve had a look at and find that it’s also available there for an equally modest sum. I am sort of bogged down at the moment, reading-wise (Simon Serrailler, I need you!), and welcome the idea of something short.

Today I must get to grips with the mathematics of my projected tee-shirt. I got 25 stitches to the inch on that swatch with sock yarn on a 3 mm needle. The design is written for sport weight yarn and aims at 23 stitches to the inch – fair enough – on a 3.6 mm needle. (How Japanese can you get?)

So first I must decide how big I would like it to come out – i.e., which of my existing tops to measure for size? And then decide how to achieve that. Shouldn’t be impossible. But best done early in the day.


Thank you for them, as always. Meezermeowmy, I love the idea of Benedict giving up the Papacy for Lent! Anonymous, I don’t think you can decline to be elected Pope once you’re locked into the Conclave. It really is an offer you can’t refuse. The only safe course would be to turn down being made a cardinal in the first place.

I agree with you that the experience of John Paul II’s suffering and incapacity at the end of his life must have influenced the present Pope, who was there and saw it all.

Our local Cardinal has been ill lately – a fierce attack of gout, is the rumour in the pews. I had thought, too, that he might be too old to vote for the next Pope. But it turns out he is only 74 and he has apparently risen from his sick bed with alacrity and started packing for Rome. So that’s good news. I like him.

In the old days (=when I was young) only the European cardinals had any hope of getting to Rome in time for the Conclave. That’s at least partly why they always elected an Italian. Nowadays, does every Cardinal have to tidy his study and answer all his emails before he leaves for the airport, just in case he doesn’t come back? They don't give you a week to settle your affairs. You're instantaneously the Pope.

If you want something to worry about, look up the Prophecy of Malachy. It’s either a 12th century prophecy or a 16th century forgery, almost certainly the latter, giving a list of little phrases to be applied to each Pope in turn. They are so unspecific they can be turned to fit anyone. The present Pope is “Gloria olivae”, “the glory of the olive”.

The worry consists of the fact that the next Pope will be the last one. The end of the world is nigh. Malachy gets trotted out whenever we have a Papal election – you’ll hear of him soon if you haven’t already. I find this a good deal more serious than that Mayan thing we survived recently. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Il gran rifuito

We had a splendid walk yesterday, on a perfect early spring day, snowdrops, pregnant sheep, clumps of daffodils growing strongly, real warmth in the sun.

A walk is described every Saturday in the Scotsman magazine. I always check. This one was published recently, and it ticked, as they say, all the boxes. A) easy to get to; B) circular – the ones that start in one place and end in another are useless; C) strenuous but not too strenuous. This one was about five miles and didn’t involve much climbing.

It was at Limekilns, just beyond Rosyth. The directions proved wonderfully easy to follow. We found all the landmarks mentioned, including the notice saying “Please do not walk on the gabions”. The last part of the route lay through the Broomhall Estate where Lord Elgin of Marbles fame used to live.

Then our niece drove me home, and I was still sitting at the kitchen table with my husband, finishing off some bacon and eggs, waiting for the water to be hot enough for my bath, when she rang up: The Pope has resigned. Dante’s phrase which I have used as a title came into my mind at once, just to boast of how cultured I am. I dare say I will find it in today’s papers when I eventually walk across the square to get them.

I looked it up, in the evening, to see why Dante had placed that Pope in hell, and I discovered that maybe he didn’t. No one is actually named. The phrase is traditionally taken to refer to  Pope Celestine V who had recently resigned, but there are difficulties with the identification. It could even refer to Pontius it’s-nothing-to-do-with-me Pilate himself.

I think it’s a big mistake, not that the Pope consulted me. It reduces the church at a stroke to the level of Standard Oil. I can see the temptation – a modest apartment flavus quam Tiberis lavit; a rota of nuns to look after one; one’s cats; one’s books; one’s piano. But Popes are meant to rise above temptation. Maybe God preferred the church to be led by weakness and suffering for a while. It has happened before. There must be structures.

The gospel at Mass only day before yesterday was the Calling of Peter. The Pope must have noticed. There is no suggestion in the text that Peter qualified his acceptance with a let-out clause, “as long as I feel up to it”. Lots of people have responsibilities in old age which they would resign from if they could and which cause increasing worry as infirmity increases.

But my view seems to be a lonely one, at least this morning. Tomorrow is Lent.

Meanwhile, all is well on the knitting front. I finished the swatch, and today will contemplate it. The ball band suggests 2.25-2.75 for the needles. I started with 2.50, found that I didn’t seem to own any 2.75’s so went on to 3’s. That was much more comfortable, including the purling. Today I’ll see what sort of gauge I got for both, and also, as a matter of interest, what size I was using for the Japanese shirt.

For actual knitting, I got on with the sock.. The foot still looks a bit large. The main thing that worries me now is the prospect of reproducing Judy’s Magic Cast-On. This first one is really rather good, after months of failure and struggle. But one sock is not much use without another.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Archie is safely in Athens, and my sister is snowed in. Both Helens – Archie’s mother and my sister -- phoned yesterday.

My sister has power but no internet. Presumably they have plenty of food – they’re used to this sort of thing, in CT. Snow was still falling as we spoke, but an enterprising youth had already knocked on the door and contracted to dig out their driveway. The roads are forbidden to all but essential and emergency traffic. I don’t think they could do that in Britain for anything short of a nuclear attack. It’s kind of fun, deep snow, until you find yourself starting to have a baby or a stroke.

Bless you, Allison. “Ikat” was indeed the word I was striving to remember, and I don’t think I would have got there without you. I had got as far as “Koigu” when your comment came in – and I knew that wasn’t it. And you’re also right about centenarians and their families. My sister was just back from Dallas, where she had been involved in our very dear Aunt Louise’s 100th birthday.

Aunt Louise is our mother’s brother’s widow. She lives at home, with carers, in the house I remember although I haven’t been there since Alexander was a toddler. A near-by daughter comes in every day to run the household. She – Aunt Louise – is the one who was waiting at that luncheon which President Kennedy’s motorcade never got to.

Tricia, thank you for the pointer to the Pooled Knits group on Ravelry, which I find, to my somewhat embarrassment, that I am already a member of. I should spend more time with Ravelry. It’s a marvellous resource.

Mary Lou, geometric intarsia has a sweet rhythm of its own, once you reconcile yourself to making rather slow progress. I have tried and failed to knit Kaffe’s cloud-like designs, but Tumbling Blocks and its variants are a different story. But look at me – not going back yet to that jacket in my sidebar.

I started swatching for the tee-shirt, on 50 stitches, and so far the st st curl is simply following me up. Purling is uncomfortable after the delicious experience of an EPS. I wonder if the main part of this thing could be done in the round? And I find that I don’t have any beautiful Knit-Pro Symfonie circulars of appropriate gauges for sock yarn. I am richly endowed, by now, with all I could ever need for sport-weight.

So there’s scope for some self-indulgence.

And Scotland won a rugby match! That’s more than France have done, so far – and at the end of this afternoon (my date with Brian O’Driscoll) Scotland will be level with either England or Ireland at won one, lost one. A brief, illusory glory, I fear.

I won’t be here tomorrow. I’m going for a walk with our niece, and will need the early morning hours to organise my husband’s breakfast and lunch.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

I had a good time with Archie yesterday – all too brief, as I had to hurry back for lunch. He seemed in good health and spirits. He had a long day ahead – first, quite a while in Edinburgh Airport, since Archie like his father and maternal grandmother (me) likes to check in well ahead of take-off time. The Mileses prefer to skid in at the last moment. Later, a three-hour lay-over in London.

I haven’t heard from Athens yet. I trust he’s safely there.

Nor have I heard from my sister, about how she and her husband are faring in the CT snow.

I got round the Fleegle-Strong heel of that sock. The foot-length looks plausible this time. It’s now in a state where I can snatch it up in an emergency and knit on up the leg. So today I will lay it aside and start swatching for the tee-shirt.

Much energetic behind-scenes action has been going on lately concerned with my 80th birthday in August. Everybody will be there, in Kirkmichael: we’ll skip the Games, later in the month. The knitting assignments are horrible this year, anyway. The same cast assembled in 2007 for our Golden Wedding Games, except for the notable absence, this time, of my husband’s sister, who died two years ago.

That was a glorious day. I won the Glenisla Shield for Sam the Ram, and our children gave us a golden Scots Pine (pinus sylvestris aurea) which later got eaten by a neighbour’s horse.

This time, it all seems a bit much. We will sit there in the middle of it grinning foolishly like those centenarians photographed with their Loved Ones on their 100th birthdays. So does one insensibly decline, day by day, week by week.

Just to cheer you up.

Nothing much to report on the knitting front, apart from the above. A blog-review turned up on Zite this morning about the new Cooperative Press book about “Borgello Knitting” which I mentioned a few days ago.

Turns out, it’s a matter of dividing space-dyed yarns into little balls and knitting them as intarsia. No thanks. For intarsia, I’ll stick to Kaffe. And for space-dyed yarns, I still hanker after – no, the word has deserted me. The effect you get when you lay out the skein and determine the length of the repeat and knit accordingly. Somewhere, I’ve kept a link. And sometime today, I’ll think of the elusive word.

But no, to Bargello.

Thank you for your comments about spinning. The Sirens! Through the Looking-Glass! I haven't done anything about it yet, but will at least consider the issue today. I wasn't just kidding when I wondered whether I was strong enough to get to the Edinburgh Wool Festival. It takes a measure of organisation at this end, as well as the actual getting-there. Craftsy is a most attractive option.: I am grateful for the suggestion.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Today’s excitement will be picking Archie up at school at lunchtime and driving him to the airport. It’s half-term already; he’s going home to Athens. I’m doing this for fun – he could perfectly well take a taxi. I am getting kinda nervous and old-lady-like about any unfamiliar driving (Drummond Place to Merchiston Castle School now counts as familiar). I have printed out a Google map of the route from the school to the airport, and step-by-step instructions. It's not far. They are both on the same edge of the city. 

Edinburgh Airport to Drummond Place is very familiar.

Knitting proceeded well yesterday. I have taken the sock back and am well advanced with a second attempt at a Fleegle-Strong heel. I have finished winding a skein of madelinetosh sock “Cosmos” – ready for swatching.

I am inclined to think an irregular hem on that tee-shirt might be silly, but I am still somewhat tempted. Kim Hargreaves’ “Cerulean” in her book “Indigo” –one of the patterns with which this quest began – simply knits the back longer than the front. I went back to Brooklyn Tweed and bought his “Ives” pattern after all. It’s knit sideways and looks terribly clever, as you might expect.

The raised front edge is achieved by k2tog four stitches in from the edge, every fourth row, for a while. Jared points out rather firmly at the beginning that you've got to get row gauge right for this one,

I note with respect your warning, Meezermeowmy, that an uneven hem would simply look as if something’s wrong.

I have copied your new comment into Lotus Organizer, Sarah. I like your edging. At the moment, however, I incline towards curl. I’ll do the swatch that way and see, at least, how long it goes on curling.

Thank you for the encouragement about spinning at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Lou and Beverly. I have long regretted that I never learned to spin. I am sure, as you say, Beverly, that it would make a big difference to one’s knitting to know – really know, with one’s fingers – how yarn is made. It’s probably too late now, but even a morning with a drop spindle might make a bit of difference.

I’ll think about that when I get back from the airport.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Odds and ends, again.

First of all, thank you for steering me to the “Relax” pattern from Amirisu, Sarah.  It was love at first sight – and in the nick of time. This is it. I have abandoned thoughts of a tee-shirt with a yoke knit sideways, Kirigami-style.  I have bought and printed the pattern. It’s got some interesting styling details – not by any means as mindless as it appears at first glance.

I continue to struggle somewhat with EverNote, so I have copied your suggested alterations into my old faithful electronic Filofax, Lotus Organizer.

How would it like having some rolled st st at the bottom to match the neck? In the picture it appears to have a slanty edge at the bottom, although I gather from the instructions that that is an illusion. I sort of fancy the idea. Could I achieve it?

You will be hearing more about this one.

I continued sock-knitting last night. I’ve turned the corner of the Fleegle-Strong heel, enough to see that the foot is too long (this is a toe-up-er) so I’ll have to rip. I think I had this problem the first time I attempted that heel – it adds quite a bit of mileage. This time I’ll measure and make a note in the above-mentioned electronic Filofax of how much distance half of a Fleegle-Strong adds to the foot length, on 64 stitches.

I don’t have to finish the sock before I start the tee-shirt – just get around the heel.

What else?

Brooklyn Tweed has a new book out. It includes an “oversized dolman turtleneck” called “Ives” which has some of the generous droopiness I’m looking for. I’m not tempted – don’t want a turtle neck, don’t want long sleeves. But it also appears to have an uneven hemline. Should I buy the pattern just to see how Jared does that? I knit his “Brownstone” pattern a couple of years ago and I know he can be relied on for meticulous instructions. No – I must have lots of uneven-hemline-patterns lying around here.

The new VK turned up yesterday, the one with Franklin’s pattern in it. Lots of good stuff. I like Wei Wilkins’ No 2 with its Celtic medallion; and I’d love to snuggle down in Mr Teriokhin’s No. 6; and that curved zipper up the front of Chuck Wilmesher’s  No. 26 is breathtaking. I could never do it. I doubt if I’ll ever knit any of them, but I love looking. VK is well out ahead of the pack, in my estimation.

Registration is about to open for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival on March 16. Am I strong enough? I’d like to spend a couple of hours struggling with a drop spindle.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Not much to report.

I’ve wound the first skein of madelinetosh sock for the tee-shirt. Two breaks: one a gently-tied knot, which I undid; the other a rather alarming frayed end which came apart in my hands. They couldn’t have m*ths at Loop? The skein had only been here a few days, and couldn’t therefore have suffered from our in-house ravenous hoard.

I’ll start winding a second skein today. Meanwhile, I’m nearly half-way round the Fleegle-Strong heel on those socks. I’ll finish that off before I do anything else, so that the sock will be in a state for emergency-mindless if need be.

Here’s the Gardening Sweater being blocked:


Zite steered me this morning to a Japanese on-line knitting magazine, Amirisu. I’m not sure I have entirely figured out how to navigate it. It is written in both Japanese and English, and features, as we say, both Japanese and Anglo-American designers. You can buy individual patterns as with the Twist Collective. One to note in EverNote? I think maybe I have succeeded in clipping and saving it there.

The first Vogue Knitting Book of them all, Autumn 1932, is on offer on eBay. I have only seen it there once before, in the years I have been pursuing this subject – and that’s the copy I’ve got. This one lacks its cover, a serious defect not shared by mine. I’ll be interested to see what it fetches. I had to pay a lot.

(Mine was bought from a charity, I’ve now forgotten which; some consolation for the price I paid. I presume somebody brought it in to a shop, and somebody there was bright enough to see that eBay was the way to go.)

Non-knit: worse, it’s rugby

Knitlass, I have never been able to work up much enthusiasm for Italy as one of the Six Nations in this annual tournament. I’m still back there in the Second Millennium with the Five Nations – the four here in the British Isles, with France for spice. Italy is too far away. Italians don’t seem to fill the streets of Edinburgh in the days before their matches, the way the other Nations do. (We are all particularly fond of the Welsh, who come here with their wives and their sisters and their cousins and their aunts and their children in push-chairs and their leeks and their daffodils and fill the city with cheerfulness. And usually win.)

If I watch any rugby this coming weekend, it probably won’t be Scotland-Italy, it’ll be Ireland-England in Dublin. With Tom Lehrer still ringing in my head: The Irish hate the English/ and the English hate the Irish/ and they’re both rather good at rugby/ and anyway I’m in love with Brian O’Driscoll. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

I was going to take a picture for you of the Gardening Sweater in daylight, being blocked, but I didn’t get it done. Here instead is one that just came in:

That’s your Reversible Cable scarf, Mary Lou, on Cathy. Kirsty’s hat is the Twelve Cable one – can’t find the pattern without waking my husband. Edinburgh this morning looks much as Beijing did yesterday.

I much enjoy the post-project tidiness phase: books back on shelves, scraps of yarn up off floor, tools back in cupboard, notes and printed pattern if there is one and swatch if there is one, in the “Knitting Actually Done” file in the bedroom. I made a good start on skein-winding, and got back in the saddle, sock-knitting-wise. Not as difficult as I thought.

A very Happy Ninetieth Birthday to your father, Cat – although, by now, most of it must be over Down There. I love the idea of the odd-ball sweaters your mother knit for him, for gardening. Kaffe would approve.

I think I have enough left over this time to do something for one of the Little Boys, even though it won’t represent the Calcutta Cup. We’ll have to consider that, when I see them at Easter. And the handing-over of Ed’s sweater will have to wait until then, too. I don’t trust the Royal Mail.

All the dimensions have emerged remarkably on target except length –it was two inches too long. I got rid of one in the blocking. We should be together on the shores of Loch Fyne long enough for me to shorten it if necessary (cutting off the bottom, picking up stitches, knitting the ribbing downwards). I’ll take along equipment. But I can’t take such drastic action until I see it on the man.

Tom Lehrer

If my 1954 self could have been told that she would pitch up in Edinburgh, she would have been delighted – I came here first for a week of the Festival in ’53, and was enchanted. And that she would have on her desk in 2013 a machine on which she could hear and watch Tom Lehrer, and communicate (by simply typing) with people anywhere in the world who also remembered him fondly… Preposterous, surely.

I doubt very much whether I had even seen colour television, in 1954.

When I read your comment, Knitlass, about “everybody hates the Jews”, I felt sure it would have been airbrushed out of the canon in these politically correct days. But I went to YouTube and typed “Tom Lehrer everybody hates the Jews” into their search bar. At first I thought I was right – “National Brotherhood Week”, indeed. Just as I feared. But then I listened to it. Please, everybody, have a look. Little has changed in the last 60 years.

And the backs of those young heads in the foreground could have been me and my friends. Was it filmed in the very theatre?

Monday, February 04, 2013

All well.

The Gardening Sweater is finished except for blocking. I would hope to get that done today. The join between yoke and body needs to lie more smoothly – it’s as smooth as a mill pond in the photographs in EZ’s books.

Front view:

Back yoke:

The phoney seam was easy and fun to do. It looks nice, but is not at all conspicuous. Meg says it helps during blocking, avoiding any tendency towards torque. You can see the sweater trying to twist in the top picture above. She also remarks, and it’s true, that it comes as a surprise to see, when you have released that ladder, how much yarn goes into forming each stitch.

The sweater looks a good size. The yarn is sport weight and I wouldn’t want it any heavier. DK would have been a bit much for balmy London. The neck looks small, but it goes over my own head easily, and I have a notoriously large head. I'll stretch it a bit in the blocking, anyway. 

For the next couple of days I will wind skeins of sock yarn for the tee-shirt. That will take even longer than winding a sport-weight skein, obviously. I plan to relieve the chore from time to time with intervals of sock-knitting. I must re-learn the Fleegle-Strong heel.

The spam has reverted to normal dimensions thank goodness. I’ve told Blogger I want to moderate everything that attaches to a post more than a week old. Previously it was a fortnight. All except one fell into that category yesterday. The one was actually a Louis Vuitton, the classic among spammers. Blogger sent it to my mailbox like all the others, with no hint as to whether or not it had been caught by their own spam filter. So I had to go to the blog and look for it – that’s where the nuisance comes in. And of course it wasn’t there.


I was glad to hear of our shared fondness for Tom Lehrer, Meezermeowmy. It is 59 years – wow! – since I first encountered him, somewhere in the early months of 1954. I went with a group of Oberlin friends to a small theatre in NYC to hear him. I had not known his name before that evening. I can remember Tom Lehrer vividly, but the friends I was with, only through a glass darkly. Were George and Betty Finnegan of the party? I think maybe so. Betty was pregnant.